Former disability discrimination commissioner Graeme Innes calls for change after 'humiliating' Adelaide Airport experience
Australia's former disability discrimination commissioner Graeme Innes has described his transit through Adelaide Airport security on Friday as "humiliating" and "distressing".
Mr Innes was returning home to Queensland after a business trip in Adelaide when he tried to use the security body scanner while holding onto his guide dog's lead.
He said he was refused access to use the body scanner and was asked to use a walk-through X-ray scanner, with his guide dog put through separately.
His colleague then had to intervene and question airport staff once a security guard said Mr Innes needed a pat down despite him not triggering the security alarm.
Mr Innes said his dog's metal harness triggered the alarm, and a supervisor later agreed that only the dog needed a pat down.
"This happens to me once every three months," Mr Innes said about airports around Australia.
The former commissioner said he had previously been pushed back by another security guard at a different airport while attempting to walk through a security scanner and has received multiple disrespectful and negative comments in other airports around the country.
Airport investigating incident
In a statement, a spokesperson for Adelaide Airport said the incident was being investigated.
"Adelaide Airport apologises to Mr Innes for his poor experience, which is not in keeping with our expected high standards of customer service," he said.
"We have a range of policies and programs in place to assist people with disabilities.
"They include having a Guide Dogs SA/NT trained facility dog based in the terminal to support travellers seeking extra assistance in navigating the terminal, and we are part of the Hidden Disability program to support people with an autism spectrum disorder."
Call for equality
Mr Innes was the national disability discrimination commissioner from 2005 to 2014 and has also served as Australia's human rights commissioner for almost four years.
He contributed to the Same Sex: Same Entitlements inquiry which resulted in the removal of discrimination across federal law and the drafting of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which was ratified in Australia in 2008.
The now company director said he would like the federal government to intervene to ensure equal treatment for people with disabilities at airports.
"Policies for people with disabilities by airlines and airports treat us in a very negative and limiting way," Mr Innes said.
"We're always the exception to the rule, we're always the group of people that has to have a particular type of treatment."
The former commissioner said from his experiences it does not appear appropriate training is given to airline and airport staff when it comes to interacting with people with a disability.
"What many of us would like is the system to be configured where we can be treated like anyone else." he said.
"Airports and airlines have to be brought in line and the only way to do that is to have people with disabilities involved in changing the regulations so we're included not treated as a separate group of people.
"It's not acceptable."